District readies for $5 million natatorium

Hays CISD is contributing $5 million toward the addition of a natatorium facility being built at the new YMCA Camp Moody, formerly Camp Cypress, in Buda.

Hays CISD has been a longtime partner with the Hays Communities YMCA center in Buda since it opened in Buda in 2007. Both Lehman and Hays High use the pool for their competitive swim team practices as it does not have its own pool facility.

However, with the growth of the district and the addition of Johnson High in the next school year, the district has been looking at additional options for aquatics programming space.

Looking at the capital cost to build its own natatorium and the costs associated with upkeep, Hays CISD’s Board of Trustees determined in August 2017 going into partnership with the new YMCA camp would be the most economical approach.

Vice President of the YMCA of Austin Sean Doles said that Hays CISD school board members researched other Texas school districts with natatorium projects. Some facilities cost more than $10 million and had operational expenses in excess of $300,000 per year.

“Recent 6A school district natatoriums include Lamar ISD natatorium, which cost $10 million and Cyprus-Fairbanks ISD which cost $17 million, so this is significantly less than that,” Doles said.

Doles added that the cost of the projects did not include operational expenses, and even a conservative estimate adds an additional $150,000 a year. Over 30 years, the district can save $4.5 million, Doles said.

Hays CISD is contributing the $5 million to the overhead cost of building the facility and the YMCA will cover any possible overrun. The YMCA will also be solely responsible for maintenance and upkeep.

“We’re growing as a district and we’re going to have a third high school,” Tim Savoy, Hays CISD public information officer said. “We’re excited that this will give us an opportunity to expand the competitive swim program, but also continue to provide those important swim lessons to first graders.”

In addition to providing practice space for district swim teams, the YMCA also hosts a program called Project Safe in which it provides free water safety and swim practice for first graders.

Currently, eight Hays CISD elementary schools participate in Project Safe of the 13 in the district and so far, the YMCA Hays Communities have taught over 8,000 students how to swim. With the new facility, Doles hopes to serve all first graders in the district.

“We’re really excited about it and think it’s going to create tremendous benefits for the community and generations to come. Thousands of kids are going to come through there, learn how to swim, and be safe in the water,” Doles said. “Drowning is the number one cause of accidental-injury related death for kids five and under and the number two cause of accidental death for kids aged 14 and under, so if we can get every kid in Hays CISD to come through there and learn how to swim and be safe, that’s a huge benefit for all the residents.”

The natatorium is projected to open in fall 2019 at the new YMCA camp located on Old San Antonio Road. The camp changed its name from Camp Cyprus to Camp Moody after a $6.25 million grant donated by the Moody Foundation based in Galveston.

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